Following the footsteps of Venezuela, Bolivia is becoming the second operator of the Chinese K-8 Karakorum jet trainer. Bolivia announced it is buying six jets at a cost of US$58 million. The aircraft will be modified into a light fighter/attack aircraft, joining the fight against drug trafficking in the country. According to General Tito Gandarilla, Bolivian Air Force (FAB) commander, the K-8 Karakorum jets are scheduled to be delivered in April 2011 augmenting the combat elements of the FAB currently assigned for this role (PC-7 and T-33). Bolivia is financing the acquisition through a loan from China.
According to General Gandarilla, the new aircraft will be able to intercept illegal aircrafts invading Bolivian airspace without authorization; the aircraft will be used mainly around Cochabamba in central Bolivia, where there is heavy production of coca plants used to make cocaine.
The K-8W is already operating with the Venezuelan Air Force. Of 36 aircraft ordered 18 were delivered in 2010. one aircraft was crashed in June last year. Other major operators are China, Egypt and Myanmar (Burma).